Commentary Magazine


Posts For: July 18, 2013

GOP’s Mixed Signals on Immigration

Earlier this week, John Stanton wrote a detailed piece on why Republicans in the House who vote for comprehensive immigration reform are not actually putting themselves at high risk of getting challenged in a Republican primary. Then National Journal released the results of its latest poll, which showed that Republicans support passing immigration reform that includes a path to citizenship as long as it toughens border security, backing up Stanton’s reporting.

But then Politico published a story on Marco Rubio’s immigration “stumbles,” arguing that even though the bill passed the Senate, conservative anger over the bill means that “this isn’t where Rubio wanted to be.” They, too, can point to new polling to back them up: the latest Washington Post/ABC poll finds a majority of Republicans oppose a path to citizenship for those here illegally. I sympathize with the Post’s Greg Sargent when he writes today of the conventional wisdom that conservative voters oppose a path to citizenship and asks, “Can’t some crack polling guru type get to the bottom of whether it’s even true or not?”

If we work backwards, however, it’s a bit easier to get to the bottom of this. The general sense of momentum is currently against the immigration bill, at least as passed by the Senate. But Stanton’s reporting is heavily documented, and the National Journal poll gives respondents enough choices to get a reasonably accurate read on where they’d like the bill to go from here. So what we’re looking for is an explanation for why there can be broad support for the aims of the bill that still puts Rubio in a difficult spot and which supports the idea that the bill is in trouble.

Read More

Earlier this week, John Stanton wrote a detailed piece on why Republicans in the House who vote for comprehensive immigration reform are not actually putting themselves at high risk of getting challenged in a Republican primary. Then National Journal released the results of its latest poll, which showed that Republicans support passing immigration reform that includes a path to citizenship as long as it toughens border security, backing up Stanton’s reporting.

But then Politico published a story on Marco Rubio’s immigration “stumbles,” arguing that even though the bill passed the Senate, conservative anger over the bill means that “this isn’t where Rubio wanted to be.” They, too, can point to new polling to back them up: the latest Washington Post/ABC poll finds a majority of Republicans oppose a path to citizenship for those here illegally. I sympathize with the Post’s Greg Sargent when he writes today of the conventional wisdom that conservative voters oppose a path to citizenship and asks, “Can’t some crack polling guru type get to the bottom of whether it’s even true or not?”

If we work backwards, however, it’s a bit easier to get to the bottom of this. The general sense of momentum is currently against the immigration bill, at least as passed by the Senate. But Stanton’s reporting is heavily documented, and the National Journal poll gives respondents enough choices to get a reasonably accurate read on where they’d like the bill to go from here. So what we’re looking for is an explanation for why there can be broad support for the aims of the bill that still puts Rubio in a difficult spot and which supports the idea that the bill is in trouble.

The answer, I think, has a lot to do with the 2012 Republican primary election and the downfall of Rick Perry. Though Perry’s debate performances obviously had much to do with his freefall in the polls, the issue that hurt him the most was immigration. I think it goes too far to credit Perry’s pro-immigration stance solely or even mostly for his primary woes—Newt Gingrich, after all, took an almost identical position on immigration and it didn’t slow him down—but there’s no question it was a major factor. The pushback Perry got for telling voters to “have a heart” when dealing with illegal immigrants and their children inspired Mitt Romney to bolt to his right on the issue and make his infamous suggestion that illegal immigrants “self-deport.”

Most Republicans learned a lesson from that incident—but they didn’t all learn the same lesson. Republicans who were inclined to support immigration reform believed Romney’s self-deportation idea was the inevitable result of trying to square a circle: the status quo on immigration policy in America is a wreck, but if you want to pander to border hawks without ludicrously advocating for the deportation of 11 million immigrants, your policy essentially amounts to wishing the problem away. And expressing the sentiment that you want those immigrants to somehow disappear while also not offering a realistic solution to the immigration impasse is a surefire way to get clobbered in a national election among immigrant groups, which Romney did.

But those more inclined to believe a bipartisan immigration reform plan would simply amount to a mass amnesty without alleviating the conditions that brought the crisis about in the first place learned a very different lesson. They saw Perry’s collapse in the polls following his immigration remarks as proof that Republican voters by and large had rejected the McCain-led reform effort a few years earlier and were plain fed-up with the fact that they were now being called heartless for simply not changing their minds.

The message they heard was: What part of “No” don’t you understand? And though early-state Republican primary voters are not usually thought to be representative of all right-of-center Americans (it’s become more of a tradition to complain about the Iowa straw poll and caucuses than to treat them as a bellwether), the presidential candidates drive the news more than other politicians, and they drive the perception of the party as well.

That’s why it was so significant for Rubio to lead the reform effort, and why he tried to get Rand Paul to sign on. The current zeitgeist of the party’s grass roots is not going to be divined by listening to where Lindsey Graham or Steve King stands on an issue. The public is always going to pay more attention to the politicians who may be their next president—or at least a major party nominee. Rubio may support this bill, but Ted Cruz voted against it, as did Rand Paul. Bobby Jindal may be sympathetic to the cause of immigration reform, but he came out against the Senate bill too. Both Scott Walker and Chris Christie seemed reluctant to specifically endorse the Senate bill.

What you have, then, is Marco Rubio supporting his own bill—and pretty much everyone else on the 2016 slate, on both sides of the immigration debate, treating Rubio’s bill as if it were radioactive. It’s not surprising that different polls received conflicting answers depending on the wording of the poll question, but neither is it surprising that when it comes to prominent prospective GOP presidential candidates, Rubio has essentially been left to stand alone, and the public has noticed.

Read Less

The Zimmerman Trial as Rorschach Test

In response to my post on the George Zimmerman trial and the left’s reaction to it, I heard from some people I know who felt like I erred in my analysis. They believe Trayvon Martin was targeted as a suspect because he was a black teen, that it’s clear that Zimmerman engaged in racial profiling, and so race was a motivating factor in the Martin killing. 

People can decide for themselves if what I wrote is sufficiently careful and fair-minded. But I thought I’d use the comments and concerns raised by these individuals to clarify and expand on some points.

What I argued was that there’s simply no indication that George Zimmerman is a racist. No evidence was presented at the trial that the killing was the equivalent of what the head of the NAACP called a “modern-day lynching.” It matters that neither the prosecution, nor the defense, nor the police, nor the jurors ever said that this trial was about race. In fact, they said the opposite. Many in the media (especially NBC/MSNBC) have acted in deeply irresponsible ways. And comparisons to what happened in Sanford, Florida on February 26, 2012 to what happened to Emmett Till on August 28, 1955 is a terrible disfigurement of history.  

Read More

In response to my post on the George Zimmerman trial and the left’s reaction to it, I heard from some people I know who felt like I erred in my analysis. They believe Trayvon Martin was targeted as a suspect because he was a black teen, that it’s clear that Zimmerman engaged in racial profiling, and so race was a motivating factor in the Martin killing. 

People can decide for themselves if what I wrote is sufficiently careful and fair-minded. But I thought I’d use the comments and concerns raised by these individuals to clarify and expand on some points.

What I argued was that there’s simply no indication that George Zimmerman is a racist. No evidence was presented at the trial that the killing was the equivalent of what the head of the NAACP called a “modern-day lynching.” It matters that neither the prosecution, nor the defense, nor the police, nor the jurors ever said that this trial was about race. In fact, they said the opposite. Many in the media (especially NBC/MSNBC) have acted in deeply irresponsible ways. And comparisons to what happened in Sanford, Florida on February 26, 2012 to what happened to Emmett Till on August 28, 1955 is a terrible disfigurement of history.  

On the matter of whether Martin was targeted because of his race: Sanford Police Department detective Chris Serino’s interpretation sounds plausible. He told the FBI that Zimmerman’s actions were not based on Martin’s skin color but rather based on his attire, the total circumstances of the encounter and the previous burglary suspects in the community. And if Trayvon Martin had been a 75-year-old African American man in a suit using a cane and walking next to his four-year-old grandchild, we all know nothing would have happened that night. If, on the other hand, a 28-year-old “white Hispanic” male with rough attire had been walking around his neighborhood on a rainy night, George Zimmerman may well have followed him. It appears what Zimmerman was doing was engaging in criminal profiling. Now, whether it’s inappropriate for race to ever, under any circumstances, be taken into account when it comes to criminal profiling is an issue worth discussing. But that is entirely different than Zimmerman killing Martin was based on racial animus, which is what racial demagogues like Al Sharpton are saying.

At the same time, I want to underscore again my belief that George Zimmerman made some tragic errors. He’s no hero. Moreover, Trayvon Martin not only didn’t deserve to die; he was innocent of any wrongdoing. The fact that he was killed is a crushing blow from which his family will never fully recover. His parents are living through an ordeal they didn’t deserve. A month from now the rest of us will have moved on from this trial. They will not have. Those of us who believe the Zimmerman verdict was correct should not forget that.

But the trial and its aftermath demonstrated something else as well. It served as a kind of Rorschach test. Some people who paid close attention to the trial came away convinced that the second-degree murder charge against George Zimmerman was indefensible, that the jury verdict was correct, and that the effort by some on the left to turn this into a Mississippi Burning moment is wrong and reckless. And many of those who claim solidarity with the African American community right now have had little or nothing to say about black-on-black crime, which is doing far more damage to the African American community than the type of incident that occurred in the Zimmerman-Martin confrontation. The moral outrage therefore seems somewhat contrived and convenient.

Others who paid close attention to the trial came away from it focused on one overriding fact: an innocent young black man was wrongly killed and the person who pulled the trigger of the weapon is a free man. In addition, they believe Trayvon Martin was a victim of racial profiling–if he had been white, the killing would never have occurred–and the consider George Zimmerman to be a “wannabe vigilante.” All of this upsets them and is evidence that the system is rigged, to one degree or another, against blacks. The fact that an innocent African American is dead from a gun shot and no one has been convicted of a crime is “another piece of evidence of the incontrovertible contempt that this nation often shows and displays for black men.” 

Now, I’ve made my case for which of these two interpretations I consider to align more closely with the facts in this case. I also believe the incendiary and reckless rhetoric has made a sober and informed discussion of race and crime very difficult to have. Any time Al Sharpton is a central figure in a discussion about race, it won’t be constructive. That said, I understand why reasonable people will react in a much different way than I did to the Zimmerman verdict and its aftermath and why they believe race may well have played a role in the death of Trayvon Martin, even if racial bigotry did not. One can appreciate why this is something that troubles them.

A final observation: None of us interprets things in a perfectly detached and objective way; we all bring to our analysis of events certain predilections. We see the same set of facts and might process them in entirely different ways. That doesn’t mean that every interpretation of events is equally valid. But we should all be alert to the fact that we often seek out information or view things in a manner that reinforces our existing opinions. And most of us should try harder than we do to see things from different vantage points that are the result of different experiences, assumptions and moral intuitions. It’s probably good, too, to have at least a few people in our orbit who have standing in our lives and are willing to challenge our interpretation of reality. That doesn’t mean we’ll agree with them on every point. But if we’re lucky, it just might help us see things a bit more clearly and a bit more fully.

Read Less

Did Putin Miscalculate–Or Did His Critics?

Much of Vladimir Putin’s governance is characterized by actions both utterly plausible and in their own way shocking. Putin’s heavyhanded crackdown on the Moscow protesters following the elections in late 2011 with the world watching is one example. His support for Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad; the ruling party’s electoral shenanigans; the imprisonment of an all-female punk-performance art group; and the judicial system’s posthumous prosecution of whistleblower Sergei Magnitsky, who died at the hands of that very same judicial system, are others.

And now the same can be said for the verdict today in the trial of opposition figure and anti-corruption activist Aleksei Navalny. Russian corruption is alarming to say the least—it ranks 133rd on Transparency International’s 2012 index. Navalny’s anti-corruption crusade couldn’t come a moment too soon. Navalny became a shareholder in major Russian corporate and government entities, better enabling him to follow the money trail in the hopes of uncovering kickback schemes. He also utilized the Web to crowd-source corruption allegations. He nicknamed Putin’s United Russia the party of swindlers and thieves, a moniker that caught on and made Navalny officially a political threat to Putin.

His status as an enemy of the state was further solidified by his participation in the Moscow protests and his recent announcement that he was running to be the next mayor of Moscow. His imprisonment was only a matter of time. Today, a court in Kirov convicted Navalny on trumped-up charges of embezzling funds from a state-controlled company. He was sentenced to five years in prison. His “trial,” such as it was, followed the staged, predetermined process that has become typical of such cases, as the New York Times reports.

Read More

Much of Vladimir Putin’s governance is characterized by actions both utterly plausible and in their own way shocking. Putin’s heavyhanded crackdown on the Moscow protesters following the elections in late 2011 with the world watching is one example. His support for Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad; the ruling party’s electoral shenanigans; the imprisonment of an all-female punk-performance art group; and the judicial system’s posthumous prosecution of whistleblower Sergei Magnitsky, who died at the hands of that very same judicial system, are others.

And now the same can be said for the verdict today in the trial of opposition figure and anti-corruption activist Aleksei Navalny. Russian corruption is alarming to say the least—it ranks 133rd on Transparency International’s 2012 index. Navalny’s anti-corruption crusade couldn’t come a moment too soon. Navalny became a shareholder in major Russian corporate and government entities, better enabling him to follow the money trail in the hopes of uncovering kickback schemes. He also utilized the Web to crowd-source corruption allegations. He nicknamed Putin’s United Russia the party of swindlers and thieves, a moniker that caught on and made Navalny officially a political threat to Putin.

His status as an enemy of the state was further solidified by his participation in the Moscow protests and his recent announcement that he was running to be the next mayor of Moscow. His imprisonment was only a matter of time. Today, a court in Kirov convicted Navalny on trumped-up charges of embezzling funds from a state-controlled company. He was sentenced to five years in prison. His “trial,” such as it was, followed the staged, predetermined process that has become typical of such cases, as the New York Times reports.

Although Navalny’s conviction was a foregone conclusion, many—apparently Navalny among them—hoped he would receive a suspended sentence, mistakenly assuming Putin would fear the backlash of jailing a public figure. But that expectation got it backwards: Navalny has a gift for organization and rallying the public; without him on the streets, Putin expects the backlash to be disorganized, haphazard, and leaderless. Putin has more to fear from an antagonized, but free, Navalny.

If that is indeed what Putin is thinking, his view is not unanimous even among his allies. As the Washington Post reports, authorities in Moscow actually wanted Navalny to be able to participate in the election because they believed they would win (or, rather, “win,” as such things go) and strike a blow against Navalny by defeating him instead of disqualifying him. Additionally, Navalny is not yet a household name. And he is prone to bad judgment: he has a history of allying with anyone who will join him, including racist and xenophobic nationalist groups—a tendency he has embraced rather than sought to curb, and which has alienated him from Russia’s liberals in the past.

And there is obvious benefit to Putin to rig the electoral process against his opponents rather than jail them. “Managed democracy” may have always been a farce, but the shaky illusion of democracy at least plays into Russian nationalist instincts to want to believe the country’s critics are wrong about modern Russia. The appearance that Putin fears Navalny, moreover, only fuels his supporters’ belief that Putin is weaker than people think. Turning a blogger into a dissident is no sign of strength.

As the Times article notes, both friends and foes of Putin are intimating that the verdict went too far:

Aleksei L. Kudrin, a close associate of Mr. Putin and former finance minister, described it on Twitter as “looking less like a punishment than an attempt to isolate him from social life and the electoral process.”

The crime novelist Boris Akunin, who is also a political opposition leader, said the verdict showed there was little hope to change Russia by democratic means. “Lifetime deprivation of elections — this is what the verdict means not only for Navalny but for all who thought it was possible to change this system through elections,” Mr. Akunin wrote. “As long as the Putin regime is alive, there will not be elections. The answer to the question ‘to be, or not to be’ that is to boycott or not boycott, has been answered. For other elections as well.”

The best parallel to Navalny’s case is not the punk trio or the whistleblower, but the jailing of oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky, arrested a decade ago and still in prison. Though Khodorkovsky’s story is far different in almost every way from Navalny’s, the important similarity is the underlying reason for their persecution: they challenged Putin in the political sphere. (Though in seizing Khodorkovsky’s assets, Putin was also reclaiming what he believed rightfully belonged to the state).

Putin’s leadership has been based on a grand bargain in which Russians are permitted all the Western culture and consumerism they desire (or can afford) so long as they don’t attempt to interfere in his political control of the country. Khodorkovsky wouldn’t play by those rules, and neither will Navalny. Whistleblowers can make Putin look bad, and punk activists can ridicule him, and those are both punishable offenses in Putin’s Russia. But they pose no major risk to his consolidation of power. The same could not be said of Khodorkovsky then or Navalny now.

Read Less

Why the ‘Rolling Stone’ Cover Has Angered People

Some journalists are complaining about the firestorm over the Rolling Stone cover story on Dzohkar Tsarnaev. Jeffrey Goldberg of the Atlantic tweeted as follows: “The outcry over the Rolling Stone cover is unwarranted. It’s a straightforward photo, with a cover line that calls Tsarnaev a monster.” Others have pointed out that the dreamy image of Tsarnaev appeared on the front page of the New York Times as well and thus the outrage aimed at Rolling Stone is unjust.

If this had been the first cover of Rolling Stone magazine, that might be right. But it’s not. Rolling Stone has a 40-year history of magazine covers and it practically invented the rock-star glamor shot in the 1970s. It is therefore meaningful, as a kind of visual grammar, that the cover is reminiscent of 1970s images of Jim Morrison and Bruce Springsteen, among others; the silhouetted soft-focus image of a soulful boy-man is a Rolling Stone tradition. As for the fact that the photograph has appeared elsewhere, that is meaningless: A glossy magazine’s cover is not a newspaper’s front page. Covers of entertainment glossies are explicitly designed to be iconographic—to glamorize and romanticize and even mythologize their subjects. They are designed to sell single copies on newsstands, and you don’t sell single copies on newsstands with ugly pictures. Such covers are designed to allure, to draw in. That is second nature to Rolling Stone as a commercial enterprise, which is surely why it never occurred to its editors just how upsetting their cover choice would be.

Some journalists are complaining about the firestorm over the Rolling Stone cover story on Dzohkar Tsarnaev. Jeffrey Goldberg of the Atlantic tweeted as follows: “The outcry over the Rolling Stone cover is unwarranted. It’s a straightforward photo, with a cover line that calls Tsarnaev a monster.” Others have pointed out that the dreamy image of Tsarnaev appeared on the front page of the New York Times as well and thus the outrage aimed at Rolling Stone is unjust.

If this had been the first cover of Rolling Stone magazine, that might be right. But it’s not. Rolling Stone has a 40-year history of magazine covers and it practically invented the rock-star glamor shot in the 1970s. It is therefore meaningful, as a kind of visual grammar, that the cover is reminiscent of 1970s images of Jim Morrison and Bruce Springsteen, among others; the silhouetted soft-focus image of a soulful boy-man is a Rolling Stone tradition. As for the fact that the photograph has appeared elsewhere, that is meaningless: A glossy magazine’s cover is not a newspaper’s front page. Covers of entertainment glossies are explicitly designed to be iconographic—to glamorize and romanticize and even mythologize their subjects. They are designed to sell single copies on newsstands, and you don’t sell single copies on newsstands with ugly pictures. Such covers are designed to allure, to draw in. That is second nature to Rolling Stone as a commercial enterprise, which is surely why it never occurred to its editors just how upsetting their cover choice would be.

Read Less

The Stravinsky Controversy

Was the modernist composer Igor Stravinsky gay? Who cares, you might ask? A lot of people, it seems. Or so one can conclude from the controversy regarding an article in the Times Literary Supplement claiming a whole list of gay lovers for Stravinsky, including his collaborator and co-founder of the Ballets Russe, Sergei Daighilev. Stravinsky scholars are skeptical of the claims about such a famously practicing heterosexual, but it is perhaps no surprise that Stravinsky is having homosexuality imputed to him.

The same thing has happened in recent years to countless famous people ranging from Alexander the Great to Michelangelo and Abraham Lincoln. Apparently sexless celebrities–at least those who were unmarried and not publicly attached–are especially ripe for such treatment, viz., Henry James, T.E. Lawrence, Lord Kitchener, and others.

Read More

Was the modernist composer Igor Stravinsky gay? Who cares, you might ask? A lot of people, it seems. Or so one can conclude from the controversy regarding an article in the Times Literary Supplement claiming a whole list of gay lovers for Stravinsky, including his collaborator and co-founder of the Ballets Russe, Sergei Daighilev. Stravinsky scholars are skeptical of the claims about such a famously practicing heterosexual, but it is perhaps no surprise that Stravinsky is having homosexuality imputed to him.

The same thing has happened in recent years to countless famous people ranging from Alexander the Great to Michelangelo and Abraham Lincoln. Apparently sexless celebrities–at least those who were unmarried and not publicly attached–are especially ripe for such treatment, viz., Henry James, T.E. Lawrence, Lord Kitchener, and others.

Having done a little historical research on Lawrence and Kitchener, I have found that the evidence for their supposed homosexuality is actually extremely poor. While they may have been repressed gays, there is little to no evidence of their having carried on a same-sex affair or, for that matter, an affair of any sort. The same is true of James. Hard as it may be to believe in the sex-soaked America of the 21st century, it is possible that they were simply asexual–secular monks as it were.

Whatever the case, it should hardly matter one way or another. “Gay” and “straight” are modern categories that scarcely fit people who lived centuries ago and did not think of their behavior in those terms. Nor is it the case that their sexuality, whatever it was, was necessarily the key to understanding their personalities and achievements.

Even most present-day gay men and woman who are proudly out of the closet don’t want to be defined by their sexuality; indeed, that was a point that CNN anchor Anderson Cooper made in explaining why he waited to come out publicly. What’s true for Cooper is certainly true for Stravinsky, Lawrence, James, and many other famous individuals: they should be judged by their achievements and merits, not on the basis of their sexuality–especially when there is no definitive evidence about what their sexuality was in their first place.

Read Less

Rolling Stone’s New Heartthrob

With the latest issue of Rolling Stone, the magazine’s editors have achieved exactly what they set out to: they have generated an incredible amount of buzz. The cover image, a “Tiger Beat” rendering of a photo of the youngest Boston bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, resembles images that Rolling Stone has used in the past for male rock stars like The Doors’ Jim Morrison. “Sultry eyes burn into the camera lens from behind tousled curls,” is how the Associated Press describes the headshot.

Hosts of every major talk show and countless blogs have spent a considerable amount of time discussing their cover story, with the image splashed across millions of screens nationwide. Anyone with experience in PR knows that it’s easier to create buzz with controversy than with thoughtful, measured pieces–a fact of which Rolling Stone is clearly well aware.

Several chains, including Walgreens and CVS, have decided not to carry this month’s issue of Rolling Stone based solely on its cover image, though the accompanying story is as sympathetic as one might expect. Here are some of the ways Rolling Stone describes the terrorist:

Read More

With the latest issue of Rolling Stone, the magazine’s editors have achieved exactly what they set out to: they have generated an incredible amount of buzz. The cover image, a “Tiger Beat” rendering of a photo of the youngest Boston bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, resembles images that Rolling Stone has used in the past for male rock stars like The Doors’ Jim Morrison. “Sultry eyes burn into the camera lens from behind tousled curls,” is how the Associated Press describes the headshot.

Hosts of every major talk show and countless blogs have spent a considerable amount of time discussing their cover story, with the image splashed across millions of screens nationwide. Anyone with experience in PR knows that it’s easier to create buzz with controversy than with thoughtful, measured pieces–a fact of which Rolling Stone is clearly well aware.

Several chains, including Walgreens and CVS, have decided not to carry this month’s issue of Rolling Stone based solely on its cover image, though the accompanying story is as sympathetic as one might expect. Here are some of the ways Rolling Stone describes the terrorist:

People in Cambridge thought of 19-year-old Dzhokhar Tsarnaev – “Jahar” to his friends – as a beautiful, tousle-haired boy with a gentle demeanor, soulful brown eyes and the kind of shy, laid-back manner that “made him that dude you could always just vibe with,” one friend says.

Jahar, on the other hand, was the baby, his mother’s “dwog,” or “heart.” “He looked like an angel,” says Anna, and was called “Jo-Jo” or “Ho.”

“He was just, like, this nice, calm, compliant, pillow-soft kid. My mom would always say, ‘Why can’t you talk to me the way Dzhokhar talks to his mother?’”

Jahar, or “Jizz,” as his friends also called him, wore grungy Pumas, had a great three-point shot… A diligent student, he was nominated to the National Honor Society in his sophomore year, which was also when he joined the wrestling team. “He was one of those kids who’s just a natural,” says Payack, his coach, who recalls Jahar as a supportive teammate who endured grueling workouts and runs without a single complaint. In his junior year, the team made him a captain.

You get the idea. Those descriptions come from just the first two of the five pages dedicated to the individual that planted backpacks packed with pressure cookers filled with shrapnel designed to kill and maim as many innocent bystanders as possible at a sporting event. 

While many have accused the stores of censorship, a local Boston-area chain explained why they wouldn’t be giving Rolling Stone shelf space this month either: “Tedeschi Food Shops supports the need to share the news with everyone, but cannot support actions that serve to glorify the evil actions of anyone. With that being said, we will not be carrying this issue of Rolling Stone. Music and terrorism don’t mix!”

We’ve seen similar extreme tactics from magazines that were in their death throes in the past, Newsweek being the most recent example. While it’s not clear why Rolling Stone has stooped to this level, if indeed their bottom line demands it, the cover and the attached story are clearly an attempt to generate publicity, not well balanced or rational conversation on what led Tsarnaev to commit mass murder. In the end this sensationalism in the place of journalism was what helped ensure the demise of Newsweek‘s print edition.

If Rolling Stone were interested in “serious and thoughtful coverage of the most important political and cultural issues of our day” (as their statement on the cover story claims), less ink would be devoted to the family’s financial and emotional adjustment problems in the United States. Scant mention is made of the radical mosque that Tsarnaev attended that had ties to the Muslim Brotherhood and jihadists. Rolling Stone makes little effort to inform its readers on the roots of the terrorism that led to carnage in Boston or memorialize those lost.

Jeff Bauman, a young man who lost both legs in the blast and whose image became iconically linked to the attack, has been fitted with prosthetic legs and has made extraordinary progress in learning to walk again. Bauman, or any number of other victims, deserves the recognition that a Rolling Stone cover would offer before the man who placed a bomb next to him, a now deceased 8-year old boy, or his maimed sister. Boston Mayor Thomas Menino rightly stated today in a letter to the publisher of Rolling Stone, “The survivors of the Boston attacks deserve Rolling Stone cover stories, though I no longer feel Rolling Stone deserves them.”

Read Less




Welcome to Commentary Magazine.
We hope you enjoy your visit.
As a visitor to our site, you are allowed 8 free articles this month.
This is your first of 8 free articles.

If you are already a digital subscriber, log in here »

Print subscriber? For free access to the website and iPad, register here »

To subscribe, click here to see our subscription offers »

Please note this is an advertisement skip this ad
Clearly, you have a passion for ideas.
Subscribe today for unlimited digital access to the publication that shapes the minds of the people who shape our world.
Get for just
YOU HAVE READ OF 8 FREE ARTICLES THIS MONTH.
FOR JUST
YOU HAVE READ OF 8 FREE ARTICLES THIS MONTH.
FOR JUST
Welcome to Commentary Magazine.
We hope you enjoy your visit.
As a visitor, you are allowed 8 free articles.
This is your first article.
You have read of 8 free articles this month.
YOU HAVE READ 8 OF 8
FREE ARTICLES THIS MONTH.
for full access to
CommentaryMagazine.com
INCLUDES FULL ACCESS TO:
Digital subscriber?
Print subscriber? Get free access »
Call to subscribe: 1-800-829-6270
You can also subscribe
on your computer at
CommentaryMagazine.com.
LOG IN WITH YOUR
COMMENTARY MAGAZINE ID
Don't have a CommentaryMagazine.com log in?
CREATE A COMMENTARY
LOG IN ID
Enter you email address and password below. A confirmation email will be sent to the email address that you provide.